After a breakup, your grief can be devastating and crippling. The loss is overwhelming and your self-doubts, negative feelings, and sadness can take over every waking minute. It’s exhausting and debilitating. But, even though it may not seem that way, a broken heart is temporary. When it heals, you can be even stronger than before and you can love more deeply and fully than you could have ever imagined.
Here are the most important things you can do for yourself to help get over a very painful heartbreak. Though these tips can’t take away your pain instantaneously, there are things you can do right now to help. Here are some strategies to help you minimize the hurt and maximize your healing.
Know Your Post Break Up Don’ts
It’s essential that you stay away from all of these don’ts totally and completely. If you engage in the first three actions on the list it will prolong your anguish and slow down the healing process. Every time you “do a don’t” it’s as if you’re peeling off an emotional scab, and the wound is made fresh again. The last three can cause both physical and emotional harm to you. I know, I know, you want just one glass of Pinot Grigio to dull your pain, but one leads to two and then the bottle is gone, and that will just add to your misery and bad decisions (like calling your ex, which is another don’t) and a cycle you want to stay away from.
- Don’t call your ex
- Don’t text your ex
- Don’t email your ex
- Don’t take drugs
- Don’t drink alcohol
- Don’t self-medicate with pills
Follow the 90 Day No Contact Rule
The best way to free yourself from the power your ex has over you is to sever all contact. This might seem impossible, but your obsession and craving for your ex will disappear if you eliminate contact. In addition to not calling, texting, and emailing your ex don’t snoop on your ex’s social media; show up at your ex’s office, ask your ex’s friends about them; hang out at your ex’s favorite spots, send anything in the mail, or drive or walk past your ex’s house. Remember you can do this. When you get the urge to make contact phone a friend, take a walk, journal your feelings, watch mindless TV, read, get out of your house, or do anything to distract yourself. When your magical thinking kicks in and you imagine that your aching heart would feel better if only you could see your ex or hear his voice just ONE more time, ignore it. One more time is never enough and each rejection and disappointment have a cumulative effect.
Journal Your Breakup
Writing down your innermost thoughts and feelings has lots of benefits that will help your hurting heart. It releases your emotions, it’s validating, and it helps you make sense of your loss. You’ll gain insight from seeing your feelings and thoughts written down. Journaling allows you to be self-reflective which leads to increased self-worth. It also feels good to be brutally honest with yourself—it’s a great way to unburden your heavy heart.
My three favorite styles of journaling are:
– Let it Flow
This is a fabulous style of journaling because you just write whatever comes to your mind, no filtering and no censoring. It’s a tremendous help in the very early stages of a breakup.
– The Ugly and Wicked Journal
If you find yourself devastated and despondent this is the journal style for you. Write down everything that was wrong with your relationship. You’re putting on paper all of the horrific memories. It’s very liberating and therapeutic because you’re no longer trying to minimizer or dismiss the hurt and cruelty you experienced.
– The Gratitude Journal
This is the place to focus on what brings you joy during this dark time. Write at least three things that you’re grateful for each day. It can be the good night sleep you get, finding your lost earring, the smell of morning coffee, or the joy of hugging your pooch.
Connect with Friends
Real friends help soothe the pain, wipe our tears, take us out to dinner when we’re not eating, and make us laugh when it seems as if our lives are crumbling. Find a breakup pal or pals—someone who you can call at 11:00 p.m. instead of calling your ex; someone who will push you to get dressed and get out of the house and someone who will sleep over so you don’t have to be alone. Tell them you have chosen them as your breakup pals and that you need them to help you get through your 90 days of no contact. Now is the perfect time to connect with old friends; with friends that you ditched while you were with your ex (be sure to apologize) and make new friends (dinner friends, fitness friends, telephone friends). It’s essential that you connect with other single people, especially ones who understand the sting of a breakup and those who have a positive spin on life.
Too much stuff in your life can trigger stress. After a breakup, your life is turned upside down and inside out. Reorganizing and refreshing your home will help you clean up the mess in your life. Make changes in your apartment, get rid of all the sheets you slept on together, reclaim all the closet space, get rid of the hideous statue that you always hated—all of it. By decluttering your living space, you will also declutter your emotional space. Because tidying up requires focus and concentration, you’ll actually be giving your sadness and grief some time off.
Give of Yourself to Someone Who Needs You
I know, you’re probably thinking that I’ve lost my mind suggesting that you help someone else- while all you want to do is curl up in your bed in a fetal position. I really mean it though—giving to others who need you is an amazing way to feel better and connected to others. It will force you to focus on someone else and it’s impossible to be there for someone while you’re having a pity party for yourself. Show your appreciation for a friend who has helped you during your breakup (send flowers or take him out to dinner). Help out a neighbor; a busy mom, someone recovering from an illness or death, an elderly relative, etc. Volunteer for a cause that resonates with you (veterans, ALS, animals, the homeless, the elderly). Volunteering is so healing because it has the power to put your breakup and your (good) life in perspective.
Fran Greene LCSW is a nationally renowned relationship expert. Flirting is her hobby, love is her passion, and her dream is for you to have a loving relationship. She has a private practice working with singles who want to find their perfect match and couples who want to improve their relationships. She is also a sought after online dating coach. In her book, Dating Again with Courage & Confidence, Fran makes dating uncomplicated, and helps singles reclaim their confidence, enjoy the dating process, and meet the love of their life. She is also the author of The Flirting Bible. Her upcoming book The Secret Rules of Flirting is available now for pre-order. Write a review for any of her books and receive a complimentary 30 minute telephone consultation.